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Energy price hike tops leaders agenda

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Top of today’s (21 October) discussions at the European Council will be the hike in energy prices which is challenging citizens and businesses. Heads of government will discuss the Commission’s recent communication to ease pressure and to offer solutions for short term relief. 

Gas prices have been surging, some MEPs have called for an investigation into market manipulation from state and non-state actors, and into EU carbon market speculation in order to measure the impact that both of these factors are having on prices. 

Arriving at the Justus Lipsius Council building today, the EU High Representative Josep Borrell said: “Today we have a big geopolitical issue - energy prices. An issue with important social consequences. Today’s energy prices are the consequence of a big geopolitical game with a strong external dimension.” Borrell added that he would present the views from recent visits to the Gulf and to Washington which touched on this issue.

The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed to the Commission’s communication but added: “We know that we will have to look at the way the energy market is functioning as a whole. And in the mid and long term it is very clear that the strategy has to be to invest massively in clean and renewable energy, because this is energy that is reliable and because it is produced in Europe.”

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban added criticism of the EU’s proposals to add households and cars to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), however that is not a cause of the immediate problem. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda pointed to how the Lithuanian President has legislated in order to compensate households to offset the impact of higher energy prices. In other countries VAT has been reduced. Each country has adopted different options often reflecting different levels of dependency on natural gas. 

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Energy

Commission proposes new list of Projects of Common Interest for a more integrated and resilient energy market

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The European Commission has adopted the fifth list of energy Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). These are key cross-border energy infrastructure projects for building a more integrated and resilient EU internal energy market and pursuing our energy and climate goals. This fifth PCI list comprises 98 projects: 67 projects in electricity transmission and storage, 20 in gas, six CO2 network projects and five smart grid projects. All PCI projects are subject to streamlined permitting and regulatory procedures and eligible for financial support from the EU's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The 67 electricity transmission and storage projects on the PCI list will make an important contribution to the increased renewable energy ambition under the European Green Deal, while five smart grid projects will improve efficiency of the networks, cross-border data coordination and safer grid management. No new gas infrastructure project is supported by the proposal. The few, selected gas projects, which have already been on the 4th PCI list, are projects that are necessary to ensure security of supply for all Member States. A strengthened sustainability assessment has led to a number of gas projects being dropped from the list.  

Today's list is established under the existing Trans-European Network-Energy (TEN-E) Regulation. In December 2020, the Commission proposed a revision of the TEN-E regulation which would end the eligibility of oil and gas infrastructure projects for future PCI lists and create an obligation for all projects to meet mandatory sustainability criteria as well as to follow the ‘do no significant harm' principle as set out in the Green Deal.

Next steps

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Following its adoption by the Commission today, the Delegated Act with the 5th PCI list will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council. Both co-legislators have two months to either accept or reject the list – a process which can be extended by a further two months, if needed. Based on the applicable legal provisions, the co-legislators do not have the possibility to amend the draft list.

More information

Delegated regulation on 5th list of Projects of Common Interest
Annex on the 5
th list of Projects of Common Interest (5th PCI list)
Staff Working Document on the 5th list of Projects of Common Interest
Q&A on 5
th list of Projects of Common Interest
Projects of Common Interest webpage
PCI interactive map
Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)

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Energy

Kick-off of the fourth edition of the Just Transition Platform Meeting

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The fourth edition of the Just Transition Platform Meeting - Coal Regions in Transition virtual week and Carbon-intensive regions seminars, hosted by the Commission, has begun - until 17 November, the meeting in an online format will gather representatives from coal, peat and shale oil and carbon-intensive regions around the EU.

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson will deliver a speech at the opening session. In the framework of several thematic sessions, member states, local and regional authorities, non-governmental organisations, social partners and EU institutions will exchange experiences and learn from one another in the journey towards a just transition to a climate-neutral Europe.

The event will provide participants with updates on the state of play of the Just Transition Fund programming negotiations and the Territorial Just Transition Plans, as well as an update on EU energy and climate policies, also in light of recent coal phase out announcements by several Member States. The agenda will also feature the launch of the Just Transition Platform Working Groups on chemicals, steel, cement and horizontal stakeholder strategy. A Multi-level Dialogue has also been organised by the Committee of the Regions as a side-event to the Just Transition Platform Meeting. The Just Transition Platform assists EU countries and regions with the just transition providing comprehensive technical and advisory support as a single access point and helpdesk. All details can be found here

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EU steel industry

EU and US agree to start discussions on a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium and suspend steel and aluminium trade disputes

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European Commission President von der Leyen and United States President Biden agreed on Sunday to start discussions on a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium. This marks a new milestone in the transatlantic relationship, and in EU-US efforts to achieve the decarbonisation of the global steel and aluminium industries in the fight against climate change. The two Presidents also agreed to pause the bilateral World Trade Organization disputes on steel and aluminium. This builds on our recent successes in rebooting the transatlantic trade relationship, such as the launch of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council and the suspension of tariffs in the Boeing-Airbus disputes.

Steel and aluminium manufacturing is one of the highest carbon emission sources globally. For steel and aluminium production and trade to be sustainable, we must address the carbon intensity of the industry, together with problems related to overcapacity. The Global Arrangement will seek to ensure the long-term viability of our industries, encourage low-carbon intensity steel and aluminium production and trade, and restore market-oriented conditions. The arrangement will be open to all like-minded partners to join. Furthermore, following the United States' announcement that they will remove Section 232 tariffs on EU steel and aluminium exports up to past trade volumes, the European Union will take the steps to suspend its rebalancing measures against the United States.

The two sides have also agreed to pause their respective WTO disputes on this issue. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The global arrangement will add a powerful new tool in our quest for sustainability, achieving climate neutrality, and ensuring a level playing field for our steel and aluminium industries. Defusing yet another source of tension in the transatlantic trade partnership will help industries on both sides. This is an important milestone for our renewed, forward-looking agenda with the US.”

More information is available in a press release, Q&A and factsheet.

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